A focus on promoting the reporting of LGBTIQ+ crime and hate speech, as well as the provision of inclusive training to police officers and security guards, are some of the measures included in the new LGBTIQ+ strategy and action plan. 

The third National Strategy and Action Plan for LGBTIQ+ for 2023 to 2027 includes 94 measures based on a number of areas, including health, policing, asylum, and employment, in which  LGBITQ+ people still face discrimination or unfair treatment. 

The launch of the plan comes a week after ILGA Europe flagged the fact that Malta's previous national action plan (2018-2022) had expired and had not yet been renewed. 

Despite this, Malta still ranks number one in Europe for LGBTIQ protection and human rights. 

In recent years, the country made huge strides forward in improving legal and policy frameworks that impact the lives of LGBTIQ people.

Yet, while LGBTIQ+ people can now get married, adopt, and donate blood - many LGBTIQ+ individuals still face discrimination and hateful homophobic comments and actions. 

On these issues, the strategy delves into improving the relationship between LGBTIQ+ individuals and the police so as to promote the reporting of LGBTIQ+ related crimes. 

It also highlights the provision of training to police recruits and officers to enhance LGBTIQ+ inclusive practices and the investigation and prosecution of hate speech and hate crimes.

The strategy calls for the development of an "equality and diversity" training module for security guards to be included in their training to obtain their licence.

The head of the LGBTIQ+ division within the Human Rights Directorate, Clayton Mercieca, explained the strategy’s measures. 

The strategy is divided into 10 areas which include measures to promote equal treatment in employment, improve equality data and research that captures the experiences of LGBTIQ+ individuals, and increase the visibility of inclusive services for LGBTIQ+ elderly, persons with disability, migrants, and children. 

Clayton Mercieca, head of the LBGTIQ+ section within the Human Rights Directorate. Photo: Jonathan BorgClayton Mercieca, head of the LBGTIQ+ section within the Human Rights Directorate. Photo: Jonathan Borg

“In the past 10 years, we have seen a drastic change and improvement in the well-being and lives of LGBTIQ+ individuals but unfortunately we still come across hateful comments every time a rainbow flag appears,” Mercieca said. 

He said that following consultations with the LGBTIQ+ Advisory Council, the strategy builds on the previous plans and addresses current challenges.

One measure is to collaborate with stakeholders, such as the National Statistics Office, to address data gaps in official statistics on the socio-economic situation of the LGBTIQ+ population. 

The strategy also highlights the need to support LGBTIQ+ dissertations and academic papers, and also to gather data on hate crime and speech and related data with regards to reporting, prosecution, and sentencing of such crimes. 

Other measures include raising awareness and the provision of the necessary care for the LGBTIQ+ elderly, and capacity building for professionals working with LGBTIQ+ migrants and asylum seekers. 

Other measures highlight the need to develop LGBTIQ+ inclusion in schools, create educational resources and training for educators and review the sexuality and relationship in the education curriculum. 

Mercieca said at the end of each quarter, the division will review and monitor the progress achieved in implementing the strategy and action plan. 

Parliamentary Secretary for Reforms and Equality Rebecca Buttigieg addressing the launch. Photo: Jonathan BorgParliamentary Secretary for Reforms and Equality Rebecca Buttigieg addressing the launch. Photo: Jonathan Borg

Speaking during the launch, Parliamentary Secretary for Reforms and Equality Rebecca Buttigieg said the strategy is an ambitious one and includes the necessary steps to ensure Malta remains committed to ensuring the advancement of equality for the LGBTIQ+ community in years to come.

She said the day is a "significant" one, as the launch falls on the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. 

"We are committed to building a world and future where everyone is treated equally, where everyone gets to enjoy their freedom and rights," she said.

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